Wednesday, February 6, 2013

IWSG-What Being A Writer Has Taught Me

Happy Wednesday! And it's time again for the Insecure Writer's Support Group post. Every first Wednesday of the month. Learn more at Alex Cavanaugh's blog by clicking the picture below. But first! Read on for what writing has taught me ....


My teen years and early twenties were spent floundering around, enjoying life, meeting people, having fun--completely unsure of what I really wanted to do or be. I was always interested in writing, and always been a writer, but back then I craved a kind of life wisdom that would only come from being out in the world and living life.

Part of our culture today is about instant gratification. We want something, we buy it. We don't like to wait. And we don't have to. We simply put it on credit and pay it off later. It's the American way.
When I was 23 I got a job with the airline because I wanted to travel and I'm no trust fund kid so I had to find a way to make it happen. All through my twenties when I wanted to take a trip, I did. Hopped on a plane, sometimes at the spur of the moment with no reservations or plans at all. (which some countries do not like, mind you) And I've done that ever since. Instant gratification.

But now that life is much slower paced and I'm dedicated to writing stories, I've really learned what it's like to WORK for something that I want. It's hard work, too. No cut-throughs, or easy hacks. The work is real, the rejection is hard, and the chances of real success, slim. But I'm still working for it.

Having this passion for writing has shown me what it's like to have to work hard for something and hope for a payoff. I find that amazingly invaluable. Sad that I'm almost 40 and just now learning it, but it is what it is.

BTW I'm reading Gone,Girl right now for my Book Club selection and WOW. Gillian Flynn writes with two separate points of view in two voices that make you wish you could have even an ounce of her talent. Anyone out there still wanting to know what constitutes voice in a story, you HAVE to read this book. It's that good.

How about you? What's writing taught you? Have you ever had to work harder for something? Read Gone, Girl yet? Please share ...

39 comments:

Barbara Watson said...

I'm not patient either, so my writing has taught me to wait. And work through the waiting.

Karen Walker said...

My writing has taught me perseverance. I am very tenacious, but I want to quit when the going gets tough. I can't quit with my writing. It won't leave me alone.
karen

Isis Rushdan said...

Patience and persistence are key. I learned that with trying to get pregnant and then with publishing.

I'm in a phase right now where I could walk away from the computer, but once my son is in school I know I'll go straight back to writing. So instead, I've decided to find some kind of balance.

Robin said...

Now I have to read Gone, Girl, so many people have been mentioning it this past month. I like what you said about writing and how it's not an instant gratification process, but gradual and without shortcuts. It's something we really have to take our time and work through. I always appreciate your posts. Thanks for being such a great support to the writing community in general and me in particular.

Candilynn Fite said...

What a great message for IWSG, Pk. And I'm yet to pick up a copy of Gone Girl, but I'm looking forward to the read!

SA Larsenッ said...

Waiting is tough, sometimes. Well, most of the time. LOL

Eliza Tilton said...

I haven't read it yet, but I will now!

Al Diaz said...

Writing has taught me to be patient. That I have a lot to learn and that I am not Shakespeare reborn, hahaha. I should have figured that out since I knew he was no dragon. Some are really slow.

Johanna Garth said...

I think of all the life and impatience that came before my decision to write as good experience to draw on for my stories.

Read Gone Girl this summer. Agree that the voice is amazing! Message me when you've finished and I'll share the rest of my thoughts :)

Susan Roebuck said...

Writing is hard work sure enough - I wish I'd started at it earlier too but, I suppose your twenties and thirties are taken up with other things. Thanks for the book recommendation - it looks great.

Linda King said...

Great post - I reckon every lesson learned is a good one - every trip is valuable and we don't need to learn TOO early that life = strife! Maybe the younger you wouldn't have been able to stand up to rejection and may not have had the stamina you have now?

Michael Offutt, Speculative Fiction Author said...

My writing has taught me that there are a billion people writing books and that my voice is not unique whatsoever. However, it's also showed me what a strong community we all forge, and I'm thankful for that.

Great post!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I knew patience and work through being a musician for so long. Maybe music taught me more about my writing than anything else.

C. Lee McKenzie said...

Writing's taught me two things: Patience and Endurance

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I will have to check that out. You are so right about the delay of gratification being essential to getting ahead. This is definitely NOT a quick business.

Nancy LaRonda Johnson said...

Yes, waiting is hard, even if we didn't grow up with the belief that we could get all we want. When we truly want something, it hurts when we're denied it, especially if we've worked so hard to get it. Yes, I mean accomplishments and acknowledgement in the writing world.

Writing and publishing is teaching me to have an even stronger faith that my dreams will come to fruition, even if not in the "immediate gratification" time frame that I long for.

M. J. Joachim said...

Instant gratification and hard work...yes, you are absolutely right on both points in this post. No doubt about it!

Roger Lawrence said...

What writing has taught me is to wear my thick skin all the time. My apprenticeship lasts until my books begin to sell.

Shelly said...

Patience and persistence. Fall down and get back up again. How to grow a thick skin and move forward.

Hugs and chocolate,
Shelly

Jackie said...

I haven't read that one, but I'll check it out. Thanks!

Livia Peterson said...

I haven't read Gone Girl yet, but am interested in reading it. I know a lot of people say it's a great read, so I should check it out.

Lexa Cain said...

You've worked hard and deserve all you get. Best wishes for even more success! :-)

DL Hammons said...

Excellent life lesson...no matter what age you are when it sinks in. As far as what writing has taught me, that my introverted existence can still make a difference in this world. :)

Ella said...

Well said! Thanks for the book suggestion~ Writing has taught me to be me. I can't write like anyone else-I can learn through them, but I have to use my voice or it won't work. I agree best wishes and it is work, but so well worth it~ Words change lives ;D

fOIS In The City said...

Great post as always, PK. I received a copy of Gone Girl and have just cracked the first chapter. I look forward to the read. I don't think there is anyone out there who would not cringe reading their first attempts, but the ones who finally make it, are the ones that learn from their mistakes and keep moving forward :)

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, PK,

Work hard? Ha.... That is the story of my life. But the lessons that go with it are priceless. I appreciate everything I have, because I earned it. So my values are pure. There is a lot to be said for that.

Like you though, when I was young I flitted, worked hard, but flitted around the globe with my career. But, sadly i didn't save for the future or plan one for that matter ... the present was too faced pace and exciting.

My lesson came in my mid thirties when I was hit with bone crushing arthritis. It changed my life and working with a handicap taught me how hard life could get and finding work with limited mobility was certainly a challenge. But our human spirit is stronger than we think. It's amazing how much we can accomplish with the will and HARD WORK....

E.J. Wesley said...

You articulated this perfectly: writing is the very opposite of instant gratification! And it's also an excellent lesson in failure/success perspective. :-)

I've always been someone who accomplishes what he sets his mind to (a common thread among writers, because you have to be hard-assed determined to REALLY give it a go). Not bragging here, because it's not like I've had ambitions to climb Everest or anything, but I'd never really failed at big life goals until writing.

Any degree, career, etc. I'd chased, I reached. I wanted to learn how play guitar like Ed Van Halen, so I bought an electric guitar and learned how to play. (Still not Ed btw, but I'm not bad. lol) Anyway, writing came along and I had to pump the breaks.

It wasn't a straight-line, and no one was going to hand me a diploma, or stamp me with approval, when I'd checked enough things off of a list. I really struggled with that aspect of it. There was no end game to writing--just get better.

Eventually I embraced it, and perspective allowed me the confidence to get in touch with the actual writer inside of me, not just the guy churning out the words.

Still working on all that, but I think I finally get it.

jamieayres.com said...

I'm not a patient person, but I've gotten a LOT better over the past 3 1/2 years of writing! Haven't read Gone Girl yet, but I will now:-)

Jay Noel said...

Writing has taught me to put aside my ego. Time and time again, I get kicked around for my own good.

Tammy Theriault said...

Perfect thought...we are all on instant gratification these days aren't we?

Nick Wilford said...

Writing is one of those things where success can only come through hard slog. No shortcuts, no easy ride. There might be a tiny bit of luck involved with an agent being in the right frame of mind on the day they open your query, and maybe the sky being right too, but really that element is pretty miniscule. And with self-publishing it's completely off your own back.

But there's nothing wrong with working hard for what you want and it's definitely a good lesson to teach the offspring, even if they might think you're insane at times!

Mina Burrows said...

My takeaway as a writer is to never give up.

I've always had to work hard for things I've wanted in life. Always. Parenting for example is another part of my life that is endless, rewarding work...much like writing. :)

I haven't read Gone Girl yet. I want to though.

Marsha Sigman said...

Writing has taught me that when you love what you do, the work isn't so bad.ha

And Gone, Girl may be one of the best books I've ever read. It was incredible.

Donna Yates said...

Writing has taught me to keep that goal in sight, that the first steps are easy, but reaching that goal takes committment and patience.

Carol Riggs said...

Adding GONE GIRL to my to-read list! Thanks for the recommendation. And go, you, on that hard work toward publication. What a great thing to learn. :) It's such a sense of satisfaction that way, when you reach your goal!

Leslie S. Rose said...

It took me forever to apply the phrase "Writing isn't a sprint, it's a marathon" to my consciousness. I've finally shoved off my need for quick gratification and am enjoying the journey.

Leslie S. Rose said...

It took me forever to apply the phrase "Writing isn't a sprint, it's a marathon" to my consciousness. I've finally shoved off my need for quick gratification and am enjoying the journey.

Nigel Mitchell said...

I'vehheard of Gone, Girl but never read it. Going on my reader list

William Kendall said...

Patience is what it's taught me. Something that I've lacked otherwise.